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TV REVIEW: Tension and Drama are a Potent Mix in “Ngayon At Kailanman” pilot

In A Nutshell: A man and a woman, the latter poor but very beautiful, the former extremely rich (yes, RICH) and princely handsome… a lovely daughter, a huge inheritance, jealous family members, new parents, deaths, lots and lots of deaths…’Ngayon at Kailanman’ is as cliché as traditional pinoy soap operas can get.

The debut of Star Creatives’ new flagship primetime series, ‘Ngayon at Kailanman’ is teeming with scenes of people getting killed, most of which by gun shots. Save for the crisp visuals, an overabundance of deaths isn’t entirely a fresh way to pilot a show, but it works in this case.

In the pilot episode alone, at least five potentially major characters die either by a bullet or an accident, the most shocking of which is TJ Trinidad‘s character, Rodrigo, getting killed in a vaguely explained car accident.

Anyone who has been paying attention to how Pinoy soap operas usually operate won’t be foolish to believe that Rodrigo is, indeed, dead. After all, there really was no physical evidence or at least, any visual documentation to prove such accident, made available to the audience, who by now has already got itself used to characters returning from the dead.

Also, if you’re quite an observer, you would notice that the gunshot received by Rebecca (Iza Calzado), could possibly be far from getting her killed (this is assuming the writers are actually giving the killer’s angular position when he released that gunshot, as a hint…geometry, physics stuff, you know) that to assume she actually lived, doesn’t sound an insane theory, at all.

And we know for sure what ensues after such kind of a great tragedy: revenge, yes, revenge. R-E-V-E-N-G-E, in all screaming capital letters.

That ‘Ngayon at Kailanman‘ means serious business, seems to be what the show runners are trying to get across in bringing back oversized dramatic soap operas on primetime. Most recent of such soaps is 2012’s Ikaw Lamang, which managed to be at least, a mild hit.

After that, light romcoms found its way in both primetime and daytime, its breezy and sweet lightness occasionally getting imbued in toned-down, modern versions of the classic Pinoy teleserye. Taking a step backward this time, is definitely a gamble, but doing so may actually be doing ABS-CBN a big favor.

After all, it is wiser these days to give what audiences are missing: classic full-blown Pinoy seryes, where characters wreck lives, protagonists rise from a fall, lovers face the world and actually end up triumphant.

It is worth-noting that Iza Calzado and TJ Trinidad both delivered brilliant performances, in this episode, that it makes killing their characters this early totally unacceptable. I mean, we need a scene where Rodrigo’s return takes people aback.

This includes both Hernan (Christian Vasquez), his half brother, and Stella (Alice Dixon), Hernan’s wife whose apparent greed for the Cortez fortune, makes us believe she is the mastermind behind the many deaths happening around.

There are other surprising performances, too, like during young Eva’s escape scene, where both Mercedes Cabral and Manuel Chua, delivered really well. That scene really struck right through the heart.

The pilot episode bears a burning momentum that if it were to be anchored upon by the succeeding ones, this show is destined to eventually become boring, which may not be the case, once Jameson Blake, Julia Barretto and Joshua Garcia, enter the big picture.

But given how Filipino viewers naturally love campy confrontations and crazy catfights in their TV series, it isn’t really that easy to predict when they will grow weary of it all. Still, even with all its gloominess and seriously dramatic tone, the pilot episode makes wishing for light moments to happen in between, sound harmless.

Though, frankly speaking, embracing such seriousness could actually be an effective way to keep audience at bay, but that’s only until they start to find the lack of light sequences, already anomalous, of course.

And yes, the title!

That ingeniously original and creative title! So original it makes us wonder how many hours and how much brain cells the show’s creative team spent to come up with such innovative title! Like we totally get it. It makes total sense why they have to abandon the working title, Nostalgia, because they were probably thinking since the show’s using Jona’s version of Basil Valdez’s ‘Ngayon at Kailanman’, it is a clever idea to give their show the same title. I assume by now you have long got the sarcasm, so I’ll just leave it at that.

If Ngayon at Kailanman catches on, it’ll probably be because of the hefty dose of chaotic and light romantic moments it should manage to blend together in a satisfying mix. Tension and drama will continue to excite the pace and keep the momentum burning.

If it were to be effective, that revenge phase ought to bring relentless ‘karma is a bitch’ moments, and make the audience believe that everything is fair in love and war. And of course, Julia and Joshua taking a big part in such phase–should add more of the much needed gritty spark.

Ngayon at Kailanman airs over ABS-CBN’s Primetime Bida, weeknights after FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano.


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